Dogs will be inside Eight Cousins Bookstore next Tuesday, marking the national release of a new novel by Peter Abrahams, a West Falmouth resident since 1982, and creator of the Chet and Bernie private-eye mysteries. The latest release is "The Sound and the Furry," the sixth installment of a series that has been on the New York Times bestseller list. Mr. Abrahams uses the pen name of Spencer Quinn.
Chet is the narrator of the stories, and is different from most detective narrators in that he is a dog. He is not a talking dog as many other pop-culture stories might depict dogs, but perhaps a little more realistic dog. Chet is the sidekick of Bernie, a private-eye, and the pair fight crime.
While not all of his fans are dog lovers, the author said, there are certainly a number of them who are, and for his book tour events, fans are known to bring their dogs.
"I hear over and over from my readers that they're now looking at their dog in a new way," Mr. Abrahams said. "They are wondering what they are thinking."
Carol B. Chittenden, owner of Eight Cousins Bookstore, is excited about the event. She has been sending autographed copies of the new book to fans in Australia.
"Chet and Bernie have been a huge hit nationally," she said. "We do a lot of author events, but it's not very often we have a national launch, especially for an author with a high profile like [Mr. Abrahams]. He's appeared here in the past, but never as his national launch site."
"I hear over and over from my readers that they're now looking at their dog in a new way," Mr. Abrahams said
"Having Chet as a narrator for the stories," said Ms. Chittenden, "is a charming device. Chet can pick up things that Bernie can't, but when a cat goes by, he'll get distracted."
"Chet is a somewhat confused narrator," said Mr. Abrahams. "He's an unreliable narrator, which is a challenge for the writer but makes for an interesting narrator. You get pieces of the mystery filtered through a canine brain. These are classic private eye novels, but it's as though it's being played on an unusual instrument. Maybe Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' played on a slide guitar."
The books are not a children's series, although the author said that the fans he meets at signings are of all ages, from teens to adults. "There's some meat to the series," said the author. "There's darkness in them. Chet can suffer, but he comes back very quickly to his reset place and readers like that."
Draws Inspiration from Falmouth
Falmouth, said Mr. Abrahams, is a place where he has drawn inspiration for his books, notably because it is a dog-friendly place, especially for his two dogs, a golden retriever and Bernese mix and a white golden retriever.
"Dogs like Falmouth too. They can sense it," he said.
Besides the dog factor, Falmouth has had a large influence on his career.
"I've written 28 novels here in Falmouth so something must be right," Mr. Abrahams said. "I like being by the sea and swimming in the ocean. Walking on the beach I get ideas for stories very often."
"But what I like better is that it's a real place. One of the things I'm writing about is people. I meet people of all types [in Falmouth]. I like the town. I raised my kids here and that's a quick way to learn about the whole town and you meet a lot of people."
"The Sound and the Furry" takes place in the bayous of Louisiana, a new setting for the series. The author said that he did a bit of research on the area but generally does limited research for his books. He did research dog vision, however, and said fortunately the science is not quite nailed down, which leaves him with more space to use his imagination. He also makes sure to research any guns involved in the stories, he said, because there are a lot of people who like guns.
Using the pen name of Spencer Quinn for the Chet and Bernie series, Mr. Abrahams explained, was a branding tactic done by his publishing company, Simon and Schuster. His agent said that the first book in the series, "Dog On It," was lighter than his other work, which he said is quite dark. It was also the first time he would write a story in first person, with Chet narrating. "Dog On It" reached number seven on the New York Times bestselling list.
At the reading and signing at Eight Cousins, which takes place at 5:30 PM on September 10, Mr. Abrahams will give pop quizzes about the series and will give the winners Chet and Bernie stress balls.
"He always has some interesting remarks," said Ms. Chittenden of Mr. Abrahams' book events.